Indoor Air Pollutants — Where to Find Them and What to Do: Particulates

Asbestos

Sources:

• Vinyl floor tiles and vinyl sheet flooring.

• Patching compounds and textured paints.

• Ceilings.

• Pipe insulation and furnace ducts.

• Wall and ceiling insulation.

Remedies:

• Take precautions when you tear up, remove, cut, scrape or sand any materials you suspect may contain asbestos.

• If the asbestos material is isolated or doesn’t pose a threat, leave it alone; seal it with paint or (in small areas) duct tape; cover it with a new surface such as wallboard.

• If it is deteriorating or must be removed, have an experienced contractor do it using precautions to avoid exposure to fibers or from spreading them into the house.

Dust

Sources:

• Carpets

• Upholstered furniture.

• Pets.

• Fireplaces.

• Smoking.

• Heating ducts.

• Doors, windows, and air leaks that allow particles to enter from outdoors.

• Exposed, worn, or damaged surfaces on building materials such as particleboard or vinyl-asbestos flooring.

Remedies:

• Install a central vacuum system vented to the outside.

• Install a ventilation system with a filter for incoming air.

• Add an effective air filter to your forced-air heating system.

• Remove carpets or other sources of dust and allergens.

• Reduce moisture levels causing mold and mildew problems.

• Caulk and weatherstrip thoroughly to prevent outdoor irritants from getting in.

• Do without pets or build a facility outside for them.

Lead

Sources:

• Old house paint (especially that made before 1950) on interior and exterior of home, notably,

on window frames, window and door trim, railings, baseboards, radiators, walls.

• Plumbing pipes and the service connection into homes (before 195os).

• Solder used to join water pipes in modern homes.

. Miscellaneous household items (ceramic pottery, lead crystal, hobby materials.

Remedies:

• Have old paint lab-tested for high lead content, especially before major renovations.

• Leave paint undisturbed if it is not accessible to children and if it is in good condition.

• Do not create any dust from leaded paint when young children or pregnant women are living in the house.

• Replace doors, windows, or trim covered with lead paint, or strip and repaint them away from the house.

• If you want paint removed, have it done by a trained contractor. This work will be dusty, Move the family out of the house during the work and clean up thoroughly before moving back in.

• Have your water tested for lead content. Recommended levels are below io parts per billion. If results show high lead levels replace old plumbing; install a point-of-use water purification device in your kitchen for drinking and cooking; secure a better source of lead-free water for drinking and cooking.

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